I'm really lucky to have a great coworker who is highly tolerant of me and willing to make a fool of herself. S., a thirtysomething mother of two, was hired into my department (for a second time) about three months after I joined the staff there, and somehow we ended up bonding. She's quietly hilarious and walks really fast, so why not ask her to do the Color Run with me?
I've been wanting a goal for a while, just something that I could work toward, and I figured the Color Run would be a good option. It's extremely laid back as far as 5K races go--it isn't timed, and all ages are welcome, from strollers to wheelchairs. So I trained--I used the Nike+ Running app's Coach program, which I recommend--and thought I'd be ready to go. S. didn't train quite as much, but she's generally in better shape than I am.
We arrived in Charlotte on May 30th, and picked up our packets. My first pinny! My first run shirt! My first...sweatband! Woo! We lined up and off we went, with the moral support of my boyfriend, who would soon be joined by one of my best friends from college. As S. and I entered the zMax Dragway where the run took place, we started off at a jog, but it didn't take long for me to slow. We alternated jogging and walking, and jogged through every colour station. I got soaked with blue water at our first station (it's like they saw a tall person and said GET 'ER), and S. was doused with pink powder at the next. I was keeping track of everything on my Nike+ Running app, and at the halfway point of the Dragway course, I looked at my phone to see how far we'd gone, then looked at S.
We had already gone 2.5 miles.
Now, a 5k is 3.1 miles. Even at 8am, which is when we started, it was pretty hot. I mean, we live in the deep south. Of course it was hot. And it was getting hotter, and the drag strip pointed directly at the sun. So we had a long way to go.
But! We were pushed forward by the hundreds of others around us who were excited about everything that was going on, and we had so much fun. By the last station, which was half mica, half glitter, we were covered in colours and drenched in sweat, but we ran roughly the last three tenths of a mile, bolstered by the cheers of my college friend E., who was chasing us to get pictures and screaming our names. (She's the best.) Getting to the end of 4.5 miles--taking that medal, grabbing a bottle of water, air hugging my friend and boyfriend, high fiving S.--was such an awesome feeling. Even though I was a mess, both literally and figuratively, I felt so relieved to have made it. I didn't have any false hopes for how well I could have done, and I just wanted to make it to the end. And I did! And it felt awesome.
I've seen a lot of "real" runners online denounce the Color Run because it isn't a "real" 5K. And I mean DUH, of course it isn't. It isn't even timed. But think about the tens of thousands of people it's motivated to come out and run, or at least walk, and the way it's changed how people think about running. Hell, I never would have run a regular timed 5K; I would have been totally intimidated. Having such a positive first race experience--even though it was an additional 2k over what I expected--makes me so much more ready to tackle the next race. I'm not sure exactly when that will be, because I lost a week of training from an ouchy knee post-Color Run, but I'm back to exercising and confident about what comes next!